There is nothing quite like your first baby, especially if that precious bundle happens to have four legs and a coat of fur. Caring for a dog can help prepare parents for the responsibilities that go along with new parenthood, but sometimes parents-to-be can feel overwhelmed by the thought of introducing their pet to the new baby. Here are some great tips for a smooth transition:
If you haven't had your dog enrolled in obedience or training classes, now is the time to do so. Small behaviors that might seem harmless now, like jumping up onto your lap, can become tougher to handle when you're very pregnant or holding a baby. Try to get your pet familiar with children as much as possible, too. They are tinier and more unpredictable (not to mention louder!) than adults, so taking your dog to a friend's house with small children or to the park to acclimate him or her to small kids can be helpful. Just make sure you're always there to supervise, and be sure to take it slow.
Another important part of planning ahead is knowing who is going to take care of your dog when you go into labor. Do you have a trusted friend or family member who is going to be able to feed and walk your pup? If you're worried about being able to juggle both your dog and a newborn, a doggy daycare environment is a great idea for your pet to get socialization and burn energy while you are acclimating to your new role as a parent. If you're interested in this, start looking early and send your dog somewhat regularly so he or she is accustomed to the environment when your baby arrives.
The First Smell
While you're still in the hospital, consider asking your partner or a trusted friend or family member to bring home a blanket or bodysuit that was used by the baby so your dog can grow accustomed to the smell. When you take your baby home, your dog will recognize his or her scent.
When you first come home, your dog will likely greet you very enthusiastically. When he or she is calm, bring your new baby out of the carrier and sit with them -- then slowly call your dog over. Allow your dog to standby and be part of the action when you're talking to your baby and changing diapers, too. Remember that no matter how docile your dog is, you should never leave your dog and baby unsupervised together.
It's ok to have designated baby gates in your home for areas that you want to declare a pet-free zone for your new baby. Make sure your dog also has plenty of access to his or her own toys and treats so that they're less tempted to chew on baby's items. Teach your baby from a young age to be gentle with your pet, and remember to never leave the two of them together unsupervised.
Do you have any tips that you'd like to share?
About the Author: Jessica is an East Coast girl recently transplanted to Austin, Texas where she lives with her husband, their three human children, and their rescue fur baby. She is an OB Nurse Educator by background, but has worked as a freelance writer, content manager, and brand strategist for the past few years and loves every minute of it. You can follow her on her personal blog or Instagram profile.